The Auction Block

Mark Rothko (American 1903 – 1970) No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue) Oil on canvas
Sotheby's
Mark Rothko (American 1903 – 1970) No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue) Oil on canvas

For centuries, auctions and estate sales have been used to establish the value of artifacts, artworks, artists, and items of historic or cultural significance. While they are premier venues for finding rare and unique antiques, as well as unprecedented artworks, auctions carry with them a sense of gambling on history that infuses them with a thrilling, electrical current. Given our city’s entrenchment in historic significance and artistic richness, it seems fitting that we should keep ourselves abreast of current auction trends and big-ticket sales. Keep an eye out for The Auction Block, where we will cover the biggest sales and auction pieces from all of the country’s premier auction houses. Now, where shall we start the bidding?

Doyle New York George Washington Autographed Letter Auction Date: Nov. 5 Estimated Value $80,000 - $100,000 Founded in 1962, Doyle New York is one of the world’s foremost auctioneers and appraisers of fine art, jewelry, furniture and more, with representatives throughout the U.S., including an office here in Georgetown. Highlighting Doyle’s Sale of Rare Books, Autographs & Maps is a letter from Washington to his wartime aide James McHenry dated Dec. 10, 1783, where Washington describes seeing the British evacuate New York and his intention of retiring and becoming a private citizen. Washington did retire to Mount Vernon, but only to be lured away to the Constitutional Congress in Philadelphia, where he was then elected the nation’s first president in 1789. www.DoyleNewYork.com

Christie’s New York François Boucher (French 1703 – 1770) The Bird Nesters Oil on canvas Auction Date: Oct. 24 Estimated Value: $250,000 –$350,000 Christie’s will host Treasures of France, From The Sun King To The Belle Époque – Vincennes And Sèvres Porcelain, French Furniture, Old Master Paintings, Books And Textiles From The Collection Of Dr. Bruce Wilson, an estate sale of one of the most important private collections of Vincennes and Sèvres porcelain of recent times in the United States. Dr. Wilson has acquired an amazing range of pieces from some of the most famous services of the 18th Century. Among the items, François Boucher’s painting, The Bird Nester, is a small masterpiece of the Rococo tradition, depicting the light-hearted scene of a budding romance. www.Christies.com/calendar

Sotheby’s Mark Rothko (American 1903 – 1970) No. 1 (Royal Red and Blue) Oil on canvas Auction Date: Nov. 13 Estimated Value: $35 – 50 million A seminal, large-scale masterpiece by Mark Rothko will lead Sotheby’s Evening Sale of Contemporary Art in New York. “No.1 (Royal Red and Blue)” was painted in 1954, a time considered by many to be the zenith of the artist’s creative powers, and, in a fitting twist of fate considering this newspaper’s current anniversary issue, the founding year of The Georgetowner. Standing at nearly 9 ½ feet tall, this majestic canvas was one of eight works hand-selected by Rothko for his landmark solo show of the same year at the Art Institute of Chicago. Leading up to the auction, the canvas will be on view in New York beginning Nov. 1. www.Sothebys.com

Bonham’s John William Godward, RBA (British 1861 – 1922) Waiting for the Procession Oil on Canvas Auction Date: Oct. 31 Estimate: $400,000 - $600,000 Founded in 1793, Bonhams is the world’s third largest auction house, offering more sales categories in more auction rooms around the world than any other firm. From their offices in Georgetown, they provide local clients expert advice and international reach in every collecting category. A case in point is this stunning painting by John William Godward, discovered in Arizona, previewed in London, and to be sold in San Francisco and New York on Oct. 31st. This exceptional Godward painting, along with other international highlights, will visit Washington, D.C. for a private viewing at the British Embassy on Oct. 22nd. For details contact Martin Gammon: (202) 333-1696. www.Bonhams.com

Sloans and Kenyon Eagle Woodcarving by John Haley Bellamy (American 1836 – 1914) Auction Date: Nov. 9 – 11 Sloans & Kenyon Auctioneers and Appraisers, located in Bethesda, Md., hosts estate catalogue auctions of fine art and antiques approximately five times each year.

In their Eight Annual Auction of Americana and More, they will auction items from the estate of the renowned late architect Arthur H. Keyes, including a rare carving by John Haley Bellamy, a noted 19th century New England folk artist known for his highly stylized carved wooden eagles. This piece is a resplendent example of the legendary artist’s work. An exhibition preceding the auction will be on view at the auction house Nov. 3 – 8. www.SloansAndKenyon.com.

Weschler’s William Frederick de Haas (American 1830 – 1922) The Maine Shoreline Oil on canvas Auction Date: Nov. 16 Estimated Value: $40,000 - $60,000 Washington D.C.’s only auction house, Weschler’s has been a local tradition for over 120 years. A monumental William Frederick de Haas oil on canvas depicting a hazy Maine shoreline hits the market Nov. 16th, as part of their Capital Collections Estate Auction. In a private local collection for over fifty years, the painting captures the solitude and vastness of the American coast and is an exceptional example of de Haas’ work. The auctioning of this work is expected to reflect a renewed collector interest in American Luminist paintings. An exhibition preceding the auction begins November 10th at Weschler’s, 909 E Street, NW Gallery. www.Weschlers.com

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